Viktor Orbán speaks to his people

A few months after Ferenc Gyurcsány started his blog Viktor Orbán's advisors must have suggested that he do something himself. But writing blogs is not Orbán's forte. First of all, I understand that he is not exactly computer savvy. Perhaps he is even technologically impaired. I heard that he doesn't own a cell phone. Gyurcsány on the other hand, by his own admission, begins the day by checking out all the newspapers on his laptop which is always at his side, including in the car when he is driven somewhere. As for the blog, he admitted that he began it thinking that it might be a useful tool in the election campaign but then he started enjoying it. He had a following he didn't want to let down. He is surprisingly disciplined: almost every weekday there is a post.

So, anyway, Orbán's staff decided that the chairman of the party, once he recovered from the lost election, had to do something to get "closer" to the people. So came a series of videos about the daily life of the party leader or occasionally interviews in which for about twenty minutes or so he answers friendly questions from a middle-aged blonde woman with glasses. (I have no idea who she is.) I must say that I don't have time to follow the happenings on Orbán's site, but recently I read about his latest "interview" in the newspapers and decided to check it out. First of all, although I was searching the video gallery I had difficulty finding the right video because they are so many categories and the newspapers didn't mention in which particular "video series" one could find this particular interview. After a while I found it. The series is called "Fogadóóra" meaning something like "open office day for the constituency." For anyone interested in listening to it in the original here is the exact URL: 

Orbán doesn't resort to giving these interviews too often. Since last December he gave only three. The last one was in June. The interviewer is very obliging and gives Orbán plenty of opportunity to talk about his favorite topics. The lady began by telling Orbán how many sad letters they get about the miserable situation people find themselves in. Yes, indeed, Orbán responds, the troubles are "deepening." This is "the Hungarian reality." As for the current government "they lied to the people but they were found out." First came "the economic crisis and then the social crisis." There is "hopelessness." But one cannot expect anything better at the next election either. "They will lie, they will cheat, they will falsify data, and they will give some alms to the people, they will throw some cheap trinkets at them in order to buy their votes." When I first heard these words I wondered whether Orbán was afraid that the other side might just win the election. He knows all too well that political fortunes can change in a heartbeat.

He then launched into a rather obscure discussion of "political revolution." I assume that his repeated assertion that there can't be a "political revolution" was a message to his far-right following. No revolution, fellows! It would be nice to have early elections but we must follow a constitutional road. But if there is no "political revolution" there must be "change," "profound change," "qualitative change," "purifying change." (Neither American presidential candidate, both calling for change, dipped into the thesaurus to find such "heavy" adjectives.) As usual, Orbán is vague on what he means by "profound, qualitative, purifying change."

Then on his very own he suddenly brought up the UD Zrt. scandal. There is nothing new here. If anyone is guilty, it is the Hungarian government and the National Security Office headed by a former KGB man. The government is using the secret service for political purposes. Fidesz politicians are innocent. Their conversations, which Fidesz made public, are no more than "conversations between old friends." How long this line can be maintained we will see. By the way, one has the suspicion that the only reason Orbán agreed to this interview was because he wanted in his own words to tell his followers the official Fidesz reaction to the scandal.

While yesterday Orbán gave this internet interview, Gyurcsány agreed to answer questions via e-mail on ATV. Another man, another way. I'll write about the questions and answers tomorrow.